Joulex initially sounds like a lot of the other energy management companies you've read about before. The company has developed software for monitoring the power delivered to different appliances in the typical office setting -- servers, PCs, lights, HVAC systems, etc. -- and controlling them to reduce overall power consumption.

The chief difference lies in the speed at which Joulex's software can accomplish this. For client Equifax, the company managed to start monitoring the desktops of 6,000 employees in about 2.5 hours. The speed comes in part because the Joulex system doesn't require software agents for each desktop.

"Less software is our biggest differentiator," said CEO Tom Noonan, who added that the system is partly based around concepts from the way security software is deployed. Noonan served as CEO of ISS, which IBM bought for $1.5 billion.

In a company with about 10,000 employees, Joulex can cut power bills by around $660,000. The company might charge $175,000 for its services, but that still results in close to $500,000 in annual savings.

Google, BMW, Daimler and Coca-Cola are all testing it out. (Editor's note: Coke is also testing out a Bloom Energy fuel cell and Solyndra solar setup, but don't hold that against Joulex. The small company has yet to nab the kind of top-tier VC investors that can help open doors. It is doing this entirely on its own.)

Meanwhile, Scientific Conservation touts a similar angle. The company produces software for operating large office buildings efficiently and unobtrusively. Now, it takes about 30 days for the company to install the software and get it to run smoothly: interior traffic patterns, weather data and other parameters have to be examined.

The goal is to shrink that period to 15 to 20 days. Boeing and Intel currently use the software in commercial office space; it is also being deployed in 7-11 stores across this great land of ours.

Efficiency experts touting their own efficiency: this could become a crucial and interesting point of contention in the industry. Four years ago, only a few companies like Verdiem (PCs and IP-enabled phones) were touting energy-efficiency software and many were focused on the home.

Now the field is broad. Some of the names include: Adura (mesh networking for lights and now HVAC), EnerNoc (demand response company turned corporate energy manager via acquisitions), Lumenergi (lights), Optimum Energy (AC chillers), BuildingIQ (HVAC), Cisco (it started in IT power controls but with Richards-Zeta Building Intelligence, it moved into buildings), EcoFactor (homes), and Racktivity (data centers).

Even Symantec has begun to port its ability to update PCs remotely as a network for monitoring power.

Most of the software products from these companies will ultimately do the same thing. And most will have to prove that the cost of the service will be more than compensated by utility savings. Ultimately, everything will likely gravitate toward a similar level of performance and functionality: there is a ceiling limiting how efficient a company can become.

Thus, the ability to stay out of your hair might become these services' most important attribute.

Tags: adura, air conditioning, building, cisco, ecofactor, energy efficiency, green building, joulex, lights, lumenergi, scientific conservation